How To Become A Licensed Psychologist in Wisconsin

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Updated on July 12, 2023
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Embarking on the path to becoming a psychologist in Wisconsin offers a unique and fulfilling career choice, enabling you to profoundly impact the lives of individuals, families, and communities. As a psychologist, you’ll have the opportunity to help people overcome challenges, foster personal growth, and enhance overall well-being. Wisconsin’s commitment to mental health and its thriving community of professionals make it an ideal state for pursuing a career in psychology.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll outline the essential steps to becoming a licensed psychologist in Wisconsin, focusing on the state’s distinctive requirements and opportunities. From education and experiential milestones to networking and continuing education, we’ll provide a roadmap for navigating the rewarding journey ahead. Join the ranks of dedicated and compassionate psychologists who are making a difference in the lives of countless individuals across the Badger State.

Step 1: High School Preparation

Aspiring psychologists should start preparing for their careers while still in high school. Focusing on relevant coursework, such as psychology, sociology, biology, and statistics, can provide a solid foundation for further studies. It’s also important to develop strong critical thinking, communication, and research skills, which are essential for success in the field of psychology.

In addition to academic preparation, high school students should engage in extracurricular activities related to psychology or mental health. Volunteering at mental health clinics, participating in peer counseling programs, or joining psychology clubs can provide valuable hands-on experience and demonstrate a genuine interest in the field.

Step 2: Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology

Pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in psychology is the next step toward becoming a psychologist in Wisconsin. Research various accredited institutions offering psychology programs, and consider factors such as location, tuition, program reputation, and available resources. Ensure you meet the prerequisites for the program, which may include completing specific high school courses or achieving a certain grade point average.

During your undergraduate studies, you will complete core coursework in psychology, which provides a strong foundation for further education and training. Typical courses include general psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, abnormal psychology, and research methods. These courses are designed to introduce you to key psychological concepts, theories, and research techniques.

Step 3 (Optional): Obtain a Master’s Degree in Psychology

While not a mandatory step, obtaining a Master’s degree in psychology can enhance your knowledge, skills, and marketability. A Master’s degree may be beneficial for those seeking specialized roles or aiming to increase their competitiveness in the job market. Research various accredited institutions offering Master’s programs in psychology, taking into account factors such as program reputation, available specializations, and program duration.

During your Master’s program, you will have the opportunity to choose a specialization in psychology. This decision enables you to focus on a specific area of psychology that aligns with your career goals and interests. Some common specializations include:

  • Clinical Psychology: This specialization prepares students to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health disorders in a variety of settings, such as private practices, hospitals, and community mental health centers.
  • Counseling Psychology: Focusing on helping individuals cope with various life challenges, counseling psychologists work with clients to develop coping strategies, improve communication, and facilitate personal growth.
  • Industrial-organizational Psychology: Industrial-organizational psychologists apply psychological principles to workplace settings, aiming to improve employee productivity, satisfaction, and overall organizational effectiveness.
  • School Psychology: School psychologists work within educational institutions to support the academic, social, and emotional development of students. They collaborate with teachers, parents, and administrators to create supportive learning environments and address student needs.

The specialization you choose will determine the specific coursework and practical experiences you complete during your studies. These tailored experiences will help you develop the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in your chosen area of psychology.

Click here for Masters in Clinical Psychology programs in the state of Wisconsin.

Step 4: Obtain a Doctoral Degree in Psychology

In order to become a licensed psychologist in Wisconsin, you must complete a doctoral degree in psychology. There are two main types of doctoral programs: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.). Ph.D. programs typically emphasize research and are more suited for those interested in academic or research careers, while Psy.D. programs focus on clinical practice and are more appropriate for those who want to work directly with clients.

Research various accredited institutions offering doctoral programs in psychology, considering factors such as program reputation, available specializations, and program duration. Some universities in Wisconsin offering doctoral programs in psychology include the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Marquette University, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Ensure you meet the prerequisites for the program, which may include:

  • Completing a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in psychology or a related field
  • Obtaining a specific number of supervised clinical hours (if required)
  • Meeting certain academic requirements, such as a minimum GPA or GRE scores
  • Submitting letters of recommendation and a personal statement

During your doctoral program, you will complete advanced coursework in your chosen specialization, engage in supervised clinical practice, and conduct original research in the form of a dissertation or capstone project. Some programs may also require internships or externships to provide additional practical experience.

This step prepares you to become a competent and knowledgeable professional in your chosen area of psychology, ready to make a positive impact on individuals, families, and communities. By the end of your doctoral program, you will have developed the necessary skills and expertise to excel in your career and contribute to the advancement of the field.

Step 5: Complete Supervised Professional Experience

Before obtaining a license to practice psychology in Wisconsin, you must complete 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience, as required by the state licensing board. The first 1,500 hours can be completed during your pre- or postdoctoral studies, while the remaining 1,500 hours must be postdoctoral. Throughout this process, you’ll work under a licensed psychologist who has at least three years of post-license experience and has completed training in supervision.

Begin searching for potential supervisors early in your doctoral program to ensure you have enough time to complete the required hours. For the first 1,500 hours, you must receive two hours of individual supervision each week, along with an additional two hours of complementary learning experiences, such as seminars, group supervision, or co-therapy sessions with another professional.

Once you reach the second 1,500 hours of your supervised professional experience, the supervision requirement decreases to one hour per week. Throughout your experience, it is essential to maintain detailed records of your work, including the number of hours, the nature of your activities, and the feedback you receive from your supervisor.

Regular evaluations of your performance will help you identify areas for improvement and track your progress toward becoming a competent psychologist. As you near the completion of your supervised professional experience, gather the necessary documentation, including details about your hours, activities, and evaluations, to submit with your application for licensure in Wisconsin. This thorough preparation will demonstrate your readiness to practice psychology professionally in the state.

Step 6: Pass the EPPP

The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is a standardized test required for licensure in Wisconsin and most other states. To register for the EPPP, you will need to submit an application to the Wisconsin Psychology Examining Board, along with the required documentation and fees. Be sure to confirm the current registration procedures and deadlines.

The EPPP covers a wide range of topics related to psychology, including assessment and diagnosis, treatment, research methods, ethics, and professional issues. Develop a comprehensive study plan that addresses each of these areas and allocates sufficient time for review and practice. Familiarize yourself with the test format, which typically consists of multiple-choice questions, and use study materials and practice exams to hone your test-taking skills.

Step 7: Pass the Wisconsin Jurisprudence Examination

The Wisconsin Jurisprudence Examination is an additional requirement for licensure in the state. This test focuses on Wisconsin-specific laws, regulations, and ethical guidelines relevant to the practice of psychology. To register for the examination, submit an application to the Wisconsin Psychology Examining Board, along with the required documentation and fees.

Prepare for the Wisconsin Jurisprudence Examination by reviewing state laws, regulations, and ethical guidelines related to the practice of psychology. Study materials may be provided by the Wisconsin Psychology Examining Board or available through professional organizations. Familiarize yourself with the test format, which may include multiple-choice questions or case vignettes, and practice applying your knowledge to real-world scenarios.

Step 8: Obtain Wisconsin Psychology License

After successfully completing the educational, experiential, and examination requirements, you will need to submit a final application for licensure to the Wisconsin Psychology Examining Board. This application should include documentation of your supervised professional experience, official transcripts from your academic programs, and proof of passing the EPPP and Wisconsin Jurisprudence Examination.

Once your application has been reviewed and approved by the Wisconsin Psychology Examining Board, you will be granted a license to practice psychology in the state. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the ongoing requirements for maintaining your license, such as continuing education and professional development activities.

Step 9: Network and Engage with Professional Associations

Joining professional organizations and associations can offer valuable networking opportunities, access to resources, and ongoing support throughout your career. These organizations often host conferences, workshops, and networking events that allow you to connect with other professionals, stay informed about industry trends, and exchange knowledge and experiences. These organizations include:

Wisconsin Psychological Association (WPA)

The Wisconsin Psychological Association is a statewide professional organization that represents psychologists in Wisconsin. Founded in 1948, WPA advocates for the profession promotes psychological science, and provides a platform for psychologists to share knowledge and expertise. It offers members various benefits such as continuing education programs, networking opportunities, professional development resources, and access to industry news and legislation updates.

American Psychological Association (APA)

The American Psychological Association is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. Founded in 1892, APA has over 121,000 members, including researchers, educators, clinicians, and students. Its mission is to advance the creation, communication, and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives. APA offers a wealth of resources, including professional development, publications, and advocacy for the field.

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

Established in 1969, the National Association of School Psychologists is a professional organization that represents school psychologists in the United States and other countries. NASP aims to promote educationally and psychologically healthy environments for all children and youth by implementing research-based, effective practices that prevent learning, behavior, and mental health problems. Members have access to professional development, resources, and networking opportunities to advance their careers and support their work in schools.

Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology is a leading professional association for the field of industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology. Founded in 1982, SIOP is a division of the APA and an organizational affiliate of the Association for Psychological Science (APS). Its mission is to enhance human well-being and performance in organizational and work settings by promoting the science, practice, and teaching of I-O psychology. SIOP offers resources, networking opportunities, and professional development for its members, fostering collaboration and the exchange of knowledge among I-O psychologists.

In addition, Attending conferences, workshops, and events related to psychology is an excellent way to broaden your professional network, develop new skills, and stay current with the latest research and developments in the field. These gatherings offer opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and professional growth, all of which can contribute to a successful and fulfilling career in psychology.

By becoming a member of multiple professional organizations, you can further diversify your network and access a broader range of resources and opportunities. Each organization has its unique focus, allowing you to connect with professionals from various specializations and backgrounds, enhancing your career development and knowledge within the field of psychology.

Step 10: Seek Employment Opportunities

As a licensed psychologist in Wisconsin, you can explore various employment opportunities in diverse settings, such as schools, hospitals, private practices, and research institutions. Research the job market in your area of expertise to identify potential employers, salary expectations, and job requirements. Networking with professionals in your field and staying connected with your academic institution can also provide valuable insights and leads on job openings.

Once you have identified potential job opportunities, prepare a tailored resume and cover letter that highlight your education, experience, and accomplishments in the field of psychology. Be prepared to discuss your specialized knowledge, skills, and experiences during interviews, and showcase your ability to make a meaningful impact on clients and the community.

Continuing Education and Professional Development

Stay Updated on the Latest Research and Practices

As a psychologist, it’s essential to stay informed about the latest research, theories, and practices in your field. Regularly review professional publications, attend conferences, and participate in online forums or discussion groups to ensure you remain knowledgeable and up-to-date with the most current and effective approaches to client care.

Participate in workshops, Seminars, and Courses

To maintain your psychology license in Wisconsin, you will be required to complete a certain number of continuing education (CE) hours within a specific time frame. Engage in workshops, seminars, and courses that align with your professional interests and contribute to your ongoing development as a psychologist. By staying current with the latest research, techniques, and best practices, you can continue to provide the highest quality care to your clients and contribute to the advancement of the field.

License Renewal in Wisconsin

To maintain your status as a licensed psychologist in Wisconsin, you must renew your license according to the guidelines set by the Department of Safety and Professional Services. The renewal requirements include:

  • Fee: Pay the necessary renewal fee (check Renewal Dates and Fees for details).
  • Continuing Education: Confirm that you have completed the required Continuing Education hours (see Continuing Education Information for specifics).
  • Legal Status: If your legal status in the U.S. has changed since your last renewal or credential issuance, contact the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services at (608) 266-2112 or

Note that if you claim permanent retirement during renewal, you won’t need to fulfill Continuing Education requirements, but your license status will change to “Non-Practicing.” These licenses remain current but don’t permit practice, and they must be renewed every two years.

Renewal Methods

There are two primary methods for renewing your psychology license in Wisconsin:

  • Online: Log in to License Renewal Online and complete the renewal process.
  • Paper Renewal: Request a paper renewal form by calling (608) 266-2112.

Relevant Forms and additional information

The following forms and information may be relevant during the license renewal process:

  • RDAF: Renewal Dates and Fees
  • 2254: Convictions and Pending Charges (if applicable for renewal)
  • R210L: Active Duty/Discharge Renewal Extension

Wisconsin Act 210 (effective June 1, 2012)

This Act provides additional support for service members and their spouses by extending the license expiration period from 90 days to 180 days after the service member is discharged from active duty. This extension also applies to the spouse of a service member, as long as they do not practice under their license while the service member is on active duty. The Act removes the prior requirement for service members to fulfill all license extension or renewal requirements, except for continuing education, in order to receive this license extension.

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